Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Honored Allies Wednesday: Leonard Henry Trent (New Zealand)

"On 3 May 1943, Squadron Leader Trent was detailed to lead a formation of Ventura aircraft in a daylight attack on the power station at Amsterdam.  This operation was intended to encourage the Dutch workmen in their resistance to enemy pressure and the target was known to be heavily defended. The importance of bombing it, regardless of enemy fighters or anti-aircraft fire, was strongly impressed on the aircrews taking part in the operation.  Before taking off Squadron Leader Trent told the deputy leader that he was going over the target whatever happened.  All went well until the eleven Venturas and their fighter escort were nearing the Dutch Coast.  Then one bomber was hit and had to turn back. Suddenly large numbers of enemy fighters appeared.  Our escorting fighters were hotly engaged and lost touch with the bombing force.  The Venturas closed up for mutual protection and commenced their run up to the target.  Unfortunately the fighters detailed to support them over the target had reached the area too early and had been recalled.  Soon the bombers were attacked.  They were at the mercy of fifteen to twenty Messerschmitts which dived on them incessantly.  Within four minutes six Venturas were destroyed.  Squadron Leader Trent continued on his course with the remaining three aircraft, and in a short time two more Venturas went down in flames.  Heedless of the murderous attacks and of the heavy anti-aircraft fire which was now encountered, Squadron Leader Trent completed an accurate bombing run, and even shot down a Messerschmitt at point blank range.  Dropping his bombs in the target area he turned away.  The aircraft following him was shot down on reaching the target. Immediately afterwards his own aircraft was hit and went into a spin and broke up.  Squadron Leader Trent and his navigator were thrown clear and became prisoners of war.   The two other members of the crew perished.  On this, his twenty-fourth sortie, Squadron Leader Trent showed outstanding leadership.  Such was the trust placed in this gallant officer that the other pilots followed him waveringly.  His cool unflinching courage and devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds rank with the fine examples of these virtues." 

From Squadron Leader Trent's Victoria Cross citation, awarded on 26 February 1946.
May you be at peace,
Portrait painted by Archibald Nicoll
Monument at the Nelson airport.

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